Wowee! I can’t wait for the action this weekend. A couple of ripping matches will take place on Sunday night. Season shapers. Chelsea travel to Tottenham and Manchester United play host to Arsenal. Just 6 points separate the top 5 sides. Arsenal top the table, closely followed by Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City and then Tottenham.
Last weekend saw this column finally post a profit for the suggested bets. The ‘sneaky’ European Multi romped home at great odds. If readers placed a $5 wager on each of the bets, they would have returned a profit of over $60.
Here are the previews for each game this weekend.
Aston Villa v West Brom (0200 AEDT)
This local derby headlines the Saturday night fixtures. Aston Villa come into this one desperately out of form and hovering precariously over the relegation places. The Villains have lost their last 3 and meet a West Brom side who have recorded back to back triumphs. The baggies beat Newcastle last weekend and Everton the weekend before. Villa manager Gerard Houllier is under pressure for a result. His side are generally handy at home and should bounce back if they can get both Gabby Agbonlahor and big John Carew in the starting line up. Even though West Brom have won their last 2, their opposition shot themselves in the foot both times, so I’m not giving them a lot of credit.
Andy’s Bet: Aston Villa to win @ 2.22 (Betfair)
Everton v Wigan (0200 AEDT)
For Everton, see Aston Villa. The toffees are languishing in the wrong half of the table. They showed considerable pluck to come from behind and pinch a point at Chelsea last weekend. Wigan are a side I do not rate at all. They will be looking to stifle an Everton outfit who lack a bit of class at the moment. Everton generally manage to sneak a goal from somewhere, so I think they might just shade it in this one. I think it will be low scoring, so a 1-0 result at half time looks appealing.
Andy’s Bet: Everton to be leading 1-0 at half time @ 3.40 (Sportsbet)
Fulham v Sunderland (0200 AEDT)
Fulham are yet another team who are underachieving this season. Readers of recent columns will know that I am a big fan of the way Sunderland are travelling. The black cats do not have any major weaknesses. Jordan Henderson received an England call up last month and he impressed again scoring the winner last weekend. The only concern for Sunderland is their away form. They have only won once away from the Stadium of Light. Fulham have hardly impressed at home though. The cottagers have only treated their home fans to victory twice. I’m spreading my bets in this one. I think if Sunderland score early, they’ll go on to win, but if not, it could be a deadlock
Andy’s Bet: Sunderland to be leading at half time and at full time @ 6.00 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.30 (Betfair)
Stoke v Blackpool (0200 AEDT)
Stoke are another team I admire. I have been waiting for Blackpool to fall away, but it just hasn’t been happening. Stoke are unbeaten in their last 5 and I like them playing at home. Left winger Matty Etherington has been in stunning form. The little man has found the net in each of the last 3 games. Blackpool have always found a way to score, but I think after their week off, they might be off their form.
Andy’s Bet: Stoke to win to nil @ 3.10 (Sportsbet)
West Ham v Man City (0200 AEDT)
This is a big game for City. With their other top 5 rivals all play each other, the sky blues might be able to leapfrog a few places. West Ham are slowly improving. A lot will depend on captain and midfielder Scott Parker. He is the heartbeat of the hammers team. City captain and goal scoring machine Carlos Tevez will miss due to suspension. This will open the door for Mario Balotelli. The Italian will look to add to his two goals against West Brom last month. I think City will just inch this one.
Andy’s Bet: Man City to win @ 1.86 (Betfair)
Newcastle v Liverpool (0430 AEDT)
As a Newcastle fan, I’ve had trouble keeping this preview brief and objective. We’ve shot ourselves in the foot again. Chris Hughton was sacked as manager during the week. He’d done little wrong guiding the team to promotion at the first attempt, and then a tidy mid table position. Alan Pardew will be in the hotseat come kickoff. Another baffling move as Pardew is hardly an improvement on Hughton. Pardew has been handed a 5 and a half year contract. Crazy considering Hughton never got close to a deal like that. Liverpool come to St James’ at the perfect time. They are in roaring form. Only Man United and Arsenal have taken more points from the last 8 fixtures. With Newcastle’s main defenders still out suspended, Sol Campbell will lineup for Premier League game 501 against Fernando Torres. Torres should have a field day.
Andy’s Bet: Fernando Torres to score the first goal @ 4.50
Andy’s Bet: Liverpool to win by 2 or more goals @ 3.75
Bolton v Blackburn (0030 AEDT)
The Lancashire derby kicks off an intriguing set of Sunday night fixtures. Bolton put in a credible showing despite losing 1-0 to Man City last weekend. Blackburn were emphatic 3-0 winners over Wolverhampton. An intriguing subplot to this match up is another return to Reebok Stadium for former Bolton manager, and now Blackburn manager, Sam Allardyce. Stuart Holden is tipped to resume his place in midfield for Bolton. I like the way the trotters are travelling under Owen Coyle and think they might just sneak a win.
Andy’s Bet: Bolton to win @ 2.05 (Sportsbet)
Wolverhampton v Birmingham (0030 AEDT)
This promises to be a scrappy affair. Birmingham have improved to be unbeaten in their last 4 matches. Wolves are struggling, but remain a difficult opponent at Molineaux. Birmingham have a settled back four of Carr, Johnson, Dann and Ridgewell. They are tough to break down and will probably opt for a cautious approach hoping that they can take the chances and snatch the win. Personally, I think this one has draw written all over it.
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.20 (Sportsbet, Betfair)
Tottenham v Chelsea (1600 AEDT)
In any other week this would be the match of the round. Tottenham continued their amazing season by topping their European Champions League group during the week. They do struggle to back up from midweek matches, and that is the only thing going in Chelsea’s favour. Tottenham should welcome back the trio of Alan Hutton, Aaron Lennon and Luka Modric who were all missing midweek. Chelsea’s right back Jose Bosingwa was injured during Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat to Marseille on Wendnesday. This leaves them weak on that side and Tottenham wizard Gareth Bale could have a field day. I think he will score. Tottenham have not kept a clean sheet since the opening day of the season, so I think Chelsea will be able to battle to a draw.
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.45 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Gareth Bale to score anytime @ 4.00 (Sportsbet)
Manchester United v Arsenal (0700 AEDT)
Match of the round. The league’s top two clash in the big Monday night fixture (UK time). United had their match against Blackpool postponed last weekend. Arsenal did just enough to put Fulham away. If you haven’t seen Samir Nasri’s goals, do yourself a favour and look them up. Simply stunning. Both sides were in action midweek. United topped their Champions League group, while Arsenal won their match to ensure qualification to the knockout stage. Notably, Robin Van Persie was on the scoresheet for the gunners. But I would be wary of betting on either the Dutchman or Marouane Chamakh to score. Arsene Wenger will be reluctant to play both in the same team. Wayne Rooney was in good touch for the red devils midweek. However he did not score, and has now been goalless from open play for 9 months for his club side. This one could go either way. These big games are often tight in the first half, before opening up after the break.
Andy’s Bet: 0-0 at half time @ 2.88 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Half with most goals – Second Half @ 2.00 (Sportsbet)
Sneaky European Multi
We broke through for a big win in last week’s multi. This week we aim to go back to back with the tried and trusted method of picking one winner from each of Europe’s big leagues.
Andy’s Bet: Liverpool, Hearts, Valencia, Borussia Dortmund, Roma, Lille all to win @ 13.85 (Sportsbet)